Tuesday, October 31, 2006
11/01/2006, 1:30 p.m. Update: The Memphis stomp reference via the "misuse" link above has been corrected, but the Google cached error remains here. The editor was late on the uptake.
According to today's Knoxville News Sentinel:
Corker also stopped in Wilson County, just east of Nashville, to support an elementary school that faces a lawsuit for allowing a group called Praying Parents to meet there.
"I think any school would be so pleased to have parents who gather once a month - not in the presence of students - praying to give the faculty and students strength and guidance," Corker said.
"We all know the strength that comes from prayer; I pray 10-12 times a day on the campaign trail," Corker said.
The article does not say whether Corker also supported the Praying Parents' practice of passing out pamphlets to pupils informing them of which ones where being prayed for. Nor does it specify whether Corker approves of Lakeview School's active promotion of Christian prayers at the flag pole.
Local TV coverage of the Lakeview contoversy can be found here.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Most of the evening was taken up by the break-up of the larger group into small group discussions on topics like accountability, economic development, codes, education, housing, etc. Each group received vision statements from the NRC regarding the discussion topic based on the first meeting's feedback. The small group I was in was the "Government & Citizen Participation" Group, which considered ideas like holding elected officials responsible for regular, direct communication with citizens and for developing close working relationships with neighborhood leaders to improve the community. We also discussed encouraging neighborhood groups to organize candidate forums, voter registration drives and efforts to recruit "neighborhood-friendly" candidates to run for office (although some pointed out that recruiting might be illegal for associations that are incorporated or that do not have a political action committee).
My general impression of the this meeting was that it was less productive than the first one. We were handed 13 pages of feedback material that we had to digest quickly, which bogged down discussion. I came away with the impression that the group had lost some of the momentum of the first meeting and that the vision statements were kind of nebulous and lacking strategic focus and concrete steps for achieving goals. Hopefully, they will pull things together for the final meeting in November.
According to volunteervoters.com, Governor Phil Bredesen is sponsoring an event called "Faith Night" at the Howard School Building polls tomorrow night. Reportedly, "members of local congregations have been invited to join their pastors in casting their votes."
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The flaws with Charter Amendment 3 are more serious than you note. The Mayor proposed a selection method for the auditor that would have provided insulation from the political process; the Council amended it so that THEY are the ones who choose the auditor, and stacked the committee so they have more votes. This new auditor will be beholden to the political whims of the Council -- and is anyone happy about that? Watch for a Council Member Near You to be handed the auditor position sometime soon if this passes, as political payback.Now I regret my vote. We do indeed need to keep our eye on how council members line up on the audit committee and who lands the auditor position.
In the mean time if you have yet to vote, do as I say and not as I do: vote against the
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Maury County Pastor Carol Jacobs told News 2 while speaking of her church's planned boycott of Wal-Mart in an interview this week:
We believe that there's a biblical standard that is set in the Word [a.k.a., Bible], that the gay and lesbian lifestyle is not condoned or encouraged in the Word of God.The problem with this point of view is that Ms. Jacobs, who seems to embrace the Bible as authoritative, is in fact only pulling out certain scriptures to use on her behalf, while ignoring others that do not serve her.
How would we know this? Because first of all she is a woman in the role of a pastor at Trinity Family Church. The Bible she claims to embrace includes the following:
I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. [St. Paul]So, her very position in her church shows that she ignores some scripture in favor of others.
We also know of her selective use of scripture when she tells News 2 about her church's vision:
Our vision of our church is how to successfully train and teach people to live successfully in their generation.The overwhelming bulk of scripture says nothing about success and more times than not addresses the way that the poor and other social outcasts are treated. In fact, the New Testament tends to characterize success as the path to hell (for example: "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to get into heaven"; and from St. James: "Come now,you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you"). Again, by emphasizing success, this pastor is ignoring large portions of the Bible that consider such accentuation to be perverted.
Here are some other Bible teachings that conservatives tend to ignore:
If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. [Exodus]
Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. [Jesus]
Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none. [John the Baptist]
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.[Leviticus, which is the same book that religious conservatives like the Columbia pastor quote to condemn interaction with gays and lesbians]
I find it difficult to take conservatives at their word when they tell me that their opposition to gays and lesbians is based on a strong reading of the same scripture that they--and most other Christians--selectively quote from.
Germantown Partners will be present at a [Wednesday, November 1st, 5:30 p.m.] meeting with the neighborhood to discuss their project at the northwest corner of 5th and Monroe. The architects on the project from Bauer Askew Architecture will be there to present thr project. They will also discuss the details of their current request for variances on that lot.
The Germantown Neighborhood Association will be holding a [Monday, October 30th, 6:00 p.m.] meeting with the developers who are planning the project at the corner of 4th & Monroe. All neighbors are invited.Germantown has down the model for developers meeting with neighbors as they plan their projects.
The developers, Joey Smith and Randy Chastain, have refined the architecture and will present their schematics to the neighborhood.
Friday, October 27, 2006
News 2 Video Journalist Mick Scott reports on the Columbia Church boycotting Wal-Mart for affiliating with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. He said that the pastor of the church believes that Wal-Mart's decision was motivated by the "almighty dollar." He did not note that the pastor's endorsement to her church to boycott Wal-Mart has a much to do with dollars as it does with divinity.
He also let go unchallenged her definition of gay and lesbian orientation as a "lifestyle," as if being attracted to the same sex was more like choosing between ski boats and less like being subject to hormonal and emotional drives.
Claire tells me that her next local gig will be at the Family Wash on Friday, Nov. 3 at 9 p.m.
Columbia nondenominational church boycotts Wal-Mart after getting an e-mail sent from the conservative American Family Association that the corporation joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Also smells like GOTV for the November ballot against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Tennessee.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
But why impugn the motives of ACLU lawyers with greed? We could apply the same flawed logic to Christian ministers who support Wilson Co.'s establishment of religion: they see dollar signs and tax-sheltered or free housing in the ministerial profession. I don't see lawyers going into the much maligned ACLU doing so for the money (especially when they could make more as corporate lawyers), no more than I see teachers going into teaching for the money. Money may be a motivating factor for some, but in the case of the ACLU, you're going to have to demonstrate clearly with more than just rumor and urban myth that it advances beyond exception.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
- Independent candidate Ginny Welsch was the only breathing candidate in any race garnering my vote this time around.
- I would have held my nose and voted for Phil Bredesen if he needed me to, but he already has enough Republican votes to destroy his rival. The last thing we need is the captain of the prayer warrior bunker in charge of state government. But I don't think that the man who insured Pacman Jones' arrival in Nashville by bringing the Titans here is too worried.
- Harold Ford indeed lost my vote. He needed my vote more than I need him in the Senate. Despite the rationale of the party faithful who keep insisting that we need to work on getting a Democratic majority, I don't believe that Blue Dog Democrats would behave any differently with their party in power. In fact, the Republicans have shown us for the past 10 years that power corrupts. Take Ford's vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act and add more power and tell me what you get. Besides, why send a Democrat to the Senate to do a Republican's job of taking away our civil liberties? That only leaves Democrats with bad cred. If Corker wins, then the opposition is clear and unclouded. I also want my Democratic critics to answer some questions: what is your limit? What line does a Democrat have to cross before you say, I cannot in good conscience vote for this poser? Or should we just ignore all heinous records and elect Dems for the sake of electing them? I'm not that kind of Dem. Finally, we're going to be hearing a lot of media comments from now until election night that the results are a repudiation of the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress (the only question being, "Will they be a clear and strong repudiation?"). As long as I am participating in this repudiation, the vote I withheld from Ford constitutes a repudiation of the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress. Believe it or not.
- I voted NO to both state Constitutional Amendments. In the case of #1, the government should not be deciding who gets special marriage and family tax breaks based on who they sack out with in the privacy of their bedroom. Now if you want an amendment encouraging unqualified monogamy, we can talk.
- I voted NO to Metro Charter Amendment #1. The property tax referendum amendment is a prescription for taking power out of the hands of the people pressuring their elected representatives and putting it in the hands of special interest lobbyists like Ben Cunningham and all of the horn honkers over at Tennessee Tax Revolt. By making tax increases subject to popularity contests, we become beholden to those groups who can mobilize a critical mass of a minority of voters to sway our city's future. Also, there are indications that this amendment is unconstitutional and would damage Nashville's credibility with lenders.
- I voted YES to Metro Charter Amendment #2. The Mayor should be giving the state of Metro address in the most public venue. I've criticized Bill Purcell for this before.
- I voted YES to Metro Charter Amendment #3. We should have an independent auditor, and I'm glad to see that Mayor Purcell's very rigorous self-audits have basically pushed the Metro Council in that direction. But there is a possible flaw in this amendment in the fine print. The audit committee will include the Vice Mayor, Director of Finance, and two Metro Council members. It will also include an accountant. The real head-scratcher for me is the final member, who will come from Chamber of Commerce. Is this committee truly independent if it includes a business community representative without balance from any other special interest? In theory, the council members on the committee are supposed to represent public interests, but we've seen the council at work this year, and if they are in bed with business, where is the balance going to come from?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The mission of the Water Center is to educate the public about how the precious element of water is collected, used, and often wasted in our contemporary world. Founded by the Cumberland River Compact and sited at the Neuhoff Development north of downtown Nashville, the H2O Center is a living model reflecting the scapes of both the natural and built environments. As a visitors and educational center, the programs include exhibition spaces, a 100 seat lecture hall, offices, a riverfront caf�library [café/library?], and a store for selling merchandise related to the phenomena of water and urban ecologies.
But most importantly, the green roof and it soft undulating geometry literally captures rain water to irrigate the rooftop plant material and to channel water into various pools and small wetland ponds. The low profile building allows the visitor to reflect on the runoff, recycling, reclamation, and consumption of water. Even during dry times, the building circulates both gray and clean water around the interior and exterior spaces, creating a descriptive process of how water moves and is collected.
2016 UPDATE: this got picked up by the Nashville Urban Design Program.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Meanwhile, Salemtown/MetroCenter has found itself in Starbucks Nation (or should that be "Starbucks Salon"?), with a local branch about to open at the corner of 8th Av. and Dominican). Can you feel high culture coming? It's hard for me to object to a Wi-Fi hotspot close by.
In unrelated news, the Coffee House slated for the Summer Street development in Germantown will not be affiliated with any chain, national or local. A Germantowner is in the process of closing on it.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
And if you believe that it will not happen to ordinary Americans like you and me, you'll need a dose of Professor Jonathan Turley's realism about how America has fundamentally changed since last week's signing of the Military Commission's Act:
Where were you? What did you do when this thing was signed into law?
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Where do they come from: these beautiful colors, as sweet as Tupelo Honey? Do they sit inside and wait until the water hoarded all summer freezes in veins and then do they turn it to wine for the eyes? And why do we make loitering pilgrimages to see them at great heights and in the lowest hollows? What is about the commune between the colors and us that is so fulfilling? And is it mutual?
Friday, October 20, 2006
Watchdogging Tennessee's Religious Right: Wilson County Tries to Roll in the Hay with Religious Indoctrination
Let's monitor Wilson County: their school board votes in December whether to establish religion in their public schools in 2007.
But I've also got a bone to pick with Scene reporter P.J. Tobia's characterization of NCBCPS's mission, which he says is "to spread the Protestant Christian reading of the Bible." There is no one Protestant Christian reading of the Bible. The sheer number of denominations and un-affiliated Protestant bodies shows clearly that Protestants do not cluster around a single reading of the Bible. In fact, the Bible tends to divide and fracture Protestants from one another. The mainstream media needs to be a little more theologically savvy.
OCTOBER 9, 2006: THE MAN SHOT TO DEATH ON 11TH AVENUE NORTH AT 9:15 P.M. MONDAY IS IDENTIFIED AS EUGENE CORDELL WRIGHT, 41, OF SANTI AVENUE. WITNESSES REPORTED THAT WRIGHT WAS WALKING AWAY FROM 1010 11TH AVENUE NORTH WHEN A RED/MAROON NISSAN PATHFINDER PULLED UP. THE PASSENGER GOT OUT AND FIRED A SHOT AT WRIGHT, BUT MISSED. WRIGHT BEGAN RUNNING AND THE GUNMAN FIRED A SECOND ROUND WHICH STRUCK WRIGHT IN THE HEAD. THE GUNMAN GOT BACK INTO THE PATHFINDER AND FLED THE AREA. THE PATHFINDER HAS DAMAGE TO THE FRONT DRIVER SIDE AND THE PASSENGER SIDE REAR WINDOW IS COVERED WITH PLEXIGLAS. THE SHOOTER IS DESCRIBED AS A BLACK MAN WHO MAY BE IN HIS 40's. HE WAS WEARING A WHITE SHIRT AND BLUE JEANS. DETECTIVES HAVE RECEIVED INFORMATION THAT THE GUNMAN GOES BY THE NICKNAME "38." ANYONE KNOWING AN INDIVIDUAL BY THAT NICKNAME OR HAVING INFORMATION ON THE PATHFINDER IS URGED TO CONTACT CENTRAL PRECINCT INVESTIGATIONS AT 862-7044 OR CRIME STOPPERS AT 74-CRIME.
Last night this school district voted an eight and a half percent raise for the Director of Schools. That’s all the teachers want.
- -MNEA President Jamye Merritt to the Nashville City PaperWhile the social conservatives are trying to promote teach-to-test incentives for teachers in order to erode public education, Pedro Garcia's pay raise looks more like a bid by local business community leaders to encourage a corporate model in which salary and job security is scaled up at the top and a few throw-them-a-bone incentives scatter along the bottom of the education food chain. The social conservatives erode public education; the corporate conservatives erode institutional fairness. It's a one-two punch, and further proof that if the teachers do not have a union, then no one else will represent their interests when the School Board divides the pie.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Yet, I have not seen any political ads with candidates walking a Kurdistan border and telling us that these immigrants bring gang violence to our shores as they tell of Mexicans. What are the chances that we will see an anti-Kurd backlash rivaling the anti-Mexican one in Middle Tennessee?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
In a finger bowl mix one part chili-pepper-infused olive oil and one part Balsamic Vinegar. Dip Ruffles in the concoction and munch away.
Wash it down with a bottle of Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager (a seasonal brew that I pick up at J & J Market near Vanderbilt). The smoky, almost-chocolate taste of the lager compliments the salty Ruffles, the fiery oil, and the tangy vinegar.
That is some good eating.
Taking up one's cross refers specifically to Rome's instrument of intimidation and execution. It reminds us again that following Jesus' liberating way puts us on a collision course with oppressive regimes and institutions, which will resort to any means necessary to crush resistance. By voluntarily and deliberately facing the prospect of death, one is freed from its power as a deterrent. "Just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence," taught Gandhi, "so one must learn the art of dying in the training for non-violence" [Engaging the Powers, 1992].Religious conservatives who bemoan the government taking their tax dollars or who gnash their teeth that public school teachers cannot lead their classes in Evangelical Protestant prayers can only be judged to be speaking metaphorically about being threatened by government. The literal threat of the government taking our inalienable rights and detaining and torturing is now on top of those citizens who oppose the Bush Administration (even on Christian grounds).
Remember George Bush's statement: "You are either with us or against us." We can only conclude that those of us who continue to criticize the Bush policies are not just in metaphorical danger of losing the privilege of paying less taxes or the convenience of hearing our own prayers in public schools; we are in literal danger of being declared "unlawful enemy combatants" and being detained without legal recourse. That is quite a cross to bear.
The Democrats are in worse shape than merely lacking majority power; they lack any sense of duty to protect Americans who otherwise cannot protect themselves. Harold Ford should be held responsible by voters for not embracing that duty; my only way of holding him responsible is to choose not to vote for him in November. I will not simply go with the increasingly surreal and ghastly flow.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Neither elementary school is in Ludye Wallace's own district. I wonder whom he is doing favors for on this one.
- Youth, Inc. (link) -- $1,000 for recreation and sports
- Operation Stand Down Nashville (link) -- $2,500 for cost of clothing homeless veterans
- The Jewish Community Center (link) -- $5,000 for swimming pool upgrades
- Eighteenth Avenue Family Enrichment Center -- $8,000 for students and teachers
But these funds are also designated for public projects, and so I would argue that a significant percentage should be plowed back into the Metro programs, since the funds were collected from public taxes. For instance, why fund private youth and family programs when many of our community center programs could use more funding? Why pay a private community center for pool upgrades when we have public swimming pools that need improvements? Those are questions that I hope are asked of Charlie Tygard and Ed Whitmore at tonight's meeting. While the funds are based on councilmanic discretion, they are also subject to public approval through the Metro Council, and requests to subsidize private organizations and ignore Metro programs is unacceptable.
- Parochial strings: schools will be less beholden to the public for what and how they teach, and they will be more beholden to the rich philanthropists and private interest groups who give them money. This is how privatization begins.
- An excuse to defund: the presence of private money will become a future reason that conservatives use to suppress or slash funds for public schools. This is how things fall apart.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
So, Prost! and Zum Wohl! to you all; and to those who come this way, enjoy Germantown's Oktoberfest!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
We didn't have any problems finding out that we could not park on the grass when we attended TACA (and to be honest, whenever I've parked on the grass for events in the past, I knew that I was taking a risk of getting towed, even as everyone else was doing it; but I accepted the risk). Parks did put signs up, so the charge that they made "no effort" is exaggerated. But if Metro gets in the habit of reimbursing people for ignorance of the laws, then I reserve my right to complain in the future when they do not notify me personally of any changes that cost me money.
I've always heard that ignorance of the laws is no excuse. Charlie Tygard may not agree.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The sparse and skeleton-like playground features sit a mere stones-throw from the granite, stainless steel and bamboo custom finishes of Morgan Park Place.
The combination slide & jungle gym looks to be Jetsons-era.
Not exactly Dragon Park.
I think that this is supposed to be a sandbox. It looks more like a trash-burning pit.
Histrionics, exaggerations, and braying political proclamations [of bloggers] are signs of overwhelming self-importance and an easy way to ruin a thirst for knowledge.
- - Reporter Jason Shawhan, who could have just as easily been describing a couple of past Nashville Scene articles I've read... and as if judging the "Best of Nashville" was not itself a braying exercise in self-importance. Excuse me while I button the flap in my pajama bottoms.
Highlights from yesterday's story, "Religious Programs Expand, So Do Tax Breaks"
- A Roman Catholic charitable ministry is providing lovely, tax-exempt retirement living to affluent people (avg. net worth=$1 million), while other non-religious retirement communities are on the hook.
- Working families pay more for services when wealthy families get property tax breaks simply because of the affiliation with organized religion.
- Charity used to involve self-sacrifice; now it is almost exclusively successful marketing (whatever happened to the religious vow of poverty?).
- Tax-exempt bonds for churches shift the local tax burden off of churches and on to the general citizenry, even though the latter does not get to enjoy the exempt properties unless they belong to the church memberships.
- Non-religious nonprofits are just as cash poor as religious ones, but they don't get the same breaks.
- Religious tax-breaks cost taxpayers $500 million per year in tax revenue.
- Ministers are allowed to be conscientious objectors to contributing to Social Security; the problem is that so many do opt out of that obligation for financial, not religious reasons.
- Religious publishers enjoy tax breaks than non-religious ones do not; is that fair competition?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The proper operation of democratic government requires ... that members of the metropolitan council in the exercise of their official functions be independent, impartial, and responsible only to the people of Nashville and Davidson County.two bills next week that contravene state immigration laws in hopes of lobbying Tennessee's General Assembly to change its laws:
Gotto acknowledged these limitations [that his bills if passed cannot be enforced] but said he hoped the measures would still spark dialogue and put public pressure on the state legislature [to change their laws].So, rather than introducing bills based on his legislative responsibilities in Nashville and Davidson County, Jim Gotto is resorting to what we might call "legislative activism," i.e., attempting to use his seat of power to influence the public into lobbying state legislators to follow his own political agenda.
Passing unenforceable laws is a waste of taxpayer money and council time. And I have to ask whether Mr. Gotto's attempt to influence the public rather than allowing the public to influence him violates the Metro Charter. Perhaps Jim Gotto should worry more about representing constituents and less about trying to marshal them to lobby for his cause.